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ISLAMABAD: The accountability court hearing a corruption reference against former finance minister Senator Ishaq Dar declared him a proclaimed offender due to his continued absence from the proceedings.
As the hearing began today, Dar’s counsel submitted his client’s fresh medical report in court and pleaded for delaying his declaration as a proclaimed offender.
Meanwhile, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) special prosecutor Imran Shafique opposed the plea and urged the court to declare Dar a proclaimed offender due to his continuous absence in court.
However, the judge reserved his decision and is expected to announce it shortly.
Also during the hearing, Qazi Misbah, a former deputy prosecutor general of NAB, appeared on behalf of Dar and requested the judge to be allowed to plead Dar’s case. However, the judge dismissed the request as Misbah is not a counsel in the case.
The court can also seize Dar’s surety bond of Rs5 million today if his bail guarantor, Ahmad Ali Qudoosi, fails to assure the court of the senator’s appearance.
Over Dar’s continuous absence in the case, which was filed by the NAB in light of the Supreme Court’s July 28 verdict in the Panama Papers case, the court had issued non-bailable arrest warrants on November 14 and declared him an absconder on November 21.
Dar is accused of owning assets that are disproportionate to his declared sources of income. He has skipped the last six hearings of the case owing to his medical treatment in London.
Later, after a period of 10 days (instead of the usual 30), the court initiated the process of declaring Dar a proclaimed offender.
At the last hearing on December 4, the court had reserved its decision on formally declaring Dar a proclaimed offender.
During the last proceedings, Dar’s counsel Qusain Faisal Mufti submitted his client’s medical report. He also objected to the ‘hasty’ order of the court in reducing the notice period from 30 days to 10.
“A suspect is declared a proclaimed offender after a period of 30 days,” Qusain had pointed out. To this, Accountability Judge Muhammad Bashir remarked: “You still got 15 days.”
Dar’s medical report shows that he has chest pain, said Qusain, adding that the former finance minister’s arteries have constricted by 35 per cent to 50 per cent.
He then requested the court to delay declaring his client a proclaimed offender, stating that Dar never said he does not want to appear in court and is only inhibited from doing so by his medical condition.
IHC seeks NAB’s reply on Dar’s plea to quash arrest warrants, curtail proclamation period
On December 2, Mufti had filed a petition in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) challenging the arrest warrants against Dar.
Dar had also challenged the court’s invocation of Section 17-C of the National Accountability Ordinance to curtail the mandatory 30-day period of the proclamation process to 10 days, on the pretext of the Supreme Court’s six-month deadline to wrap up the proceedings.
Taking up the case, the IHC issued notices to NAB and sought a reply in one week.
Moreover, the court dismissed Dar’s request to be exempted from appearance in the accountability court.
The bench, comprising Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hasan Aurangzeb, ordered Dar’s counsel to give a proper timeframe of his client’s return.
Earlier, the counsel had informed the court that Dar would return to the country in 10-15 days, and added that it would depend on the permission of his doctors.
The hearing was adjourned until December 20.
Dar relieved of finance ministry duties
On November 23, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi accepted Dar’s request to be relieved of his duties, reported Geo News.
Dar was relieved of his three roles, including his portfolio in the finance ministry, and was informed of the decision.
Sources had said Dar would remain a federal minister as a leave of absence of three months has been granted to him.